I last wrote on this topic on the 4th February when I explained about the delays regarding the Parliamentary approval of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill.
I am now very pleased to be able to report that the Bill concluded its passage through the House of Commons on 17th June. It is anticipated that the Bill will receive Royal Assent soon, after returning from the House of Lords, who are to consider an amendment. However, despite this, the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland has indicated that the reforms to Divorce Law that are contained within the Bill, will not come into force upon it receiving Royal Assent “because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation”.
The Lord Chancellor has indicated that the timetable for implementation is looking like Autumn 2021.
Although the implementation of the Reforms is probably still at least a year away, myself and my family law colleagues are very pleased that finally, this Bill will bring the divorce law into the 21st century.
The main benefit of the reforms will be, that couples will be able to petition jointly for divorce and Family Law will be able to move away from a culture, where one party has historically had to take the “blame” for the breakdown of the marriage.
It is clear that, these changes will allow family lawyers to be far better equipped, to support separating couples to resolve matters, as constructively and amicably as possible. We always try and aim for this at the outset of any family case, but all too often in the past, this has fallen by the wayside far too quickly, due to the fact that battle lines have had to be drawn, by one party petitioning for divorce against the other. Together with the Petition frequently then based upon having to give details of the other party’s perceived “unreasonable behaviour”, this has not in the past laid the foundations, for an amicable divorce.
Concerns have been raised by some professionals that the reforms will lead to an increase in ”quickie divorces”. However, one of the reforms introduces a minimum overall timeframe, which will ensure that this is not able to happen.
It is clear that before the ‘no fault’ divorces can be used on a regular basis, that much work is still going to be needed surrounding the rules of the new process, the new Court forms and online portal etc., but for the 100,000 plus couples, who divorce on an annual basis, it is anticipated that by late 2021, the reforms will be in place, to allow the process to be as pain free and amicable as possible.
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